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JACKETS ELUDE LOVE, NORMAN

Both share a burning desire to win a Masters Tournament. Playing together in a twosome, both mounted final-round charges that earned them a share of the lead with two holes to play.

But once again, Davis Love III and Greg Norman will have to wait until next year before they size themselves for a green jacket.Love, who did not qualify for the Masters until winning last week's Freeport-McMoRan Classic in New Orleans, turned in the lowest score during Sunday's final round, a 6-under 66. Norman closed with his third consecutive 68. But Ben Crenshaw, a co-leader after 54 holes, birdied two of his last three holes to edge Love (13 under) by one stroke and Norman (11 under) by three.

Love's score was the best by a non-winner in Masters history. More important to him, it marked his first top-10 finish in a major championship.

"I let a few putts get away from me that are disappointing, but that was the best ball-striking round that I've had in a major," Love said. "I'm happy with that. The first time I really had a chance to win a major, I held in there pretty good. I'm glad I won't have to answer any more questions about why I've never had a top-10 in a major."

Love sank seven birdie putts but missed out on a playoff because of a three-putt bogey at the par-3 16th hole. Norman, who lost in dramatic fashion at the Masters in 1986 and 1987, expressed no regrets about his play Sunday.

His only mistake, Norman said, was a pulled approach at No.17 that resulted in a three-putt bogey. Otherwise . . .

"I played exceptional golf the last three days. I just didn't win it," Norman said. "I'm disappointed but I can hold my chin up high."

Norman said his 10-foot eagle putt at No.15, which burned the left lip, "will stick with me for a while. I thought it was in the center of the hole and it decided to stay out."

But all in all, Norman said, "I lost because somebody else played better."

Love second-guessed himself about missing a 7-iron approach at No. 13 that cost him a chance at birdie. He also lamented his three-putt from 40 feet at No. 16. But he considered his experience more positive than negative, particularly because he lost to close friend Ben Crenshaw.

"I won't leave here feeling like I played as good as I can play, but at least I know I can compete with Greg Norman and Ben Crenshaw and those guys," said Love, 30. "If I had gotten beat by another player, I would be more disappointed. But since it was Ben ... You know, what he did for me probably gave me a chance to play well in the tournament."

It was Crenshaw who phoned Love on Tuesday night and convinced him to stay and practice in Augusta rather than joining him at Wednesday's funeral for Harvey Penick.

"I think Harvey and Davis' dad (a Penick pupil who died in a 1988 plane crash) would have wanted it that way," Crenshaw said. "Davis is fabulous. He's so loaded with talent. He's going to win many coats here."

Just not the one handed out yesterday.